New York Life Insurance Company v. Aleandre
OPINION re: 11 FIRST MOTION to Deposit Funds, filed by New York Life Insurance Company, 14 MOTION to Add. FIRST MOTION for Default Judgment as to Kimberly Lionel, FIRST MOTION for Summary Judgment for Life Insurance Proceeds, filed by Johanne Lionel Aleandre. For the reasons set forth above, Plaintiff's motion is granted in part and denied in part: Plaintiff is (1) allowed to commence an interpleader action; (2) permitted to deposit the insurance policies' $50,00 0 death benefit proceeds with the court as relating to Aleandre; (3) discharged from any further liability under the policies to Defendants; and (4) Defendants are enjoined from commencing any further litigation against NY Life relating to the polici es in this court or elsewhere. Plaintiff's motion for an award of attorneys' fees and costs is denied. Defendant Aleandre's motion for default and summary judgment is denied, and Aleandre is compelled to submit further support for her right to the death benefits to this Court. It is so ordered. (Signed by Judge Robert W. Sweet on 12/16/2013) (ja)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
NEW YORK LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY,
13 Civ. 2384
JOHANNE LIONEL ALEANDRE and KIMBERLY
A P PEA RAN C E S:
Defendant Johanne Lionel Aleandre
LAW OFFICES OF ERIC DINNOCENZO
641 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10022
Eric Dinnocenzo, Esq.
Attorney for Plaintiff
WHITE AND WILLIAMS LLP
One Penn Plaza, 41st Floor, Suite 4110
New York, NY 10119
By: Andrew Hamelsky, Esq.
I USDC snr·.,fY
: :: 'r
I ELECTRONICALLY FILED I
I~TE FIL~: r-2-J?± Ii
Insurance Company ("NY Life")
iff New York
r pursuant to Rule 22, to deposit the funds of
policies of Defendant Johanne
("Aleandre") with the Court's registry pursuant to Fed. R. Civ.
P. 67, and
es and costs.
r default judgment against De
Lionel ("Kimberly"), and
NY Life to be
red to pay
amounts due and owing directly to Defendant
Upon the facts and conclusions set
Plaintiff's motion is g
in part and
in part, and
Defendant Aleandre's mot
Facts & Procedural History
1 (the "Insured") was issued a
Insurance Policy on November 26, 2001 ("
The Insured was also issued a se
which became effect
(Compl. Ex. 2.)
Life Insurance Policy
on September 23, 2008
policies have a
$50,000.00, and the benefit amount
("Policy 2") .
ce amount value of
le upon the Insured's
r each policy was $50,000.00.
aries to both policies as
and her sister, Aleandre, with each rece
r daughter, Kimberly,
(Compl. Exs. 3-4.)
Policy 1 contains the following pertinent
under § 2.4:
r any life insurance
person or entity named in the
application, or in a notice you sign that
information we need.
If more than one
named, they can be classifi
as first, second, and so
If two or more are
in a class, t
in the proceeds is equal, unless you state otherwise.
The stated shares will be
id to any first
es who survive
If no first
s survive, payment will be
second class, and so on.
(Compl. Ex. 1.)
Policy 2 contains the following pertinent provision:
Naming of Beneficiary
ne ciaries who
proceeds will be paid to any first
If no first
survive, payment will
made to any
surviving in the second class, and so on.
ve in the same class have an
ries who s
re in the proceeds, unless
(Compi. Ex. 2.)
The Insured di
on August 17, 2011.
the Insured had suf
a gunshot wound to her torso while
(CompI. Ex. 5.)
Following the I
death, Aleandre submitt
a claim for the death benefits under
the life insurance polic
(CompI. Ex. 6.)
had received information t
Insured's death was the result of a homic
As part of this 1
on, John Murray
("Murray"), a Senior Representative in the CIa
Unit of the Se
See Affidavit of John Murray ("Murray
Murray attests that he contact
cts in the homicide of
be ruled out as
At first, Murray was
Orange County Sheriff's Department t
out as s
authorities on behalf
in November 2011 to ascertain whether the
ce Department of NY Life, investigated the
of NY Life
ath of the Insured prior to
was considered to
r considered a suspect,
involved and was refusing
no one had been ru1
er, on October 25, 2013,
that Kimberly was no 10
e with the criminal
rmed by the
d that t
was also repeatedly in
In addition, Ken Smith, also a Senior
in the Claims Administration
of the Se
, attested to the fact that
ce Department of
County Sheriff's Department numerous t
ficiaries had any involvement in t
death of the
See Affidavit of Ken Smith ("Smith Aff.U).
February 27, 2013, Smith contacted Detective Pelton of the
Orange County Sheriff's Department and was
the Orange County She
re is an
r 10, 2013,
homicide of the
s are currently bei
ngs Letter ("Demings Let.U).
Jerry L. Demings of
ff's Department advised NY
Insured, and that su
As a res
ion, taken together, NY Life informed Aleandre that it
was currently unable to pay her t
fits while the
Aleandre continued to demand
Thereafter, NY Life commenced the instant action
pursuant to the Federal Interpl
ruled out as a suspect.
By letter dated Oct
r Act, 28 U.S.C.
Fed. R. Civ.
interposed an Answer to the First Amended
Complaint with Conterclaim and Cross-Claim, alleging that NY
acted wrongfully and unreasonably by refusing to pay her
To date, Defendant Kimberly has not interposed an
Answer in this matter.
hearing on t
Kimberly was present at the Court
instant motion on December 11, 2013 1 •
agreed to pay Kimberly her share of the death benefits in the
amount of $50,000.00.
maintains that they are currently
in the process of issuing benefit checks to Kimberly.
On November 12, 2013,
motion seeking an order:
Plaintiff filed the instant
(1) declaring and adjudicating that NY
fe's payment of $50,000.00 to the Court's Registry will be in
total satisfaction of both Ii
discharge and absolve NY
the parties hereto;
s and will
from any further liability to each
(2) releasing and discharging NY Life
from and against any and all liability relating to t
(3) permanently restraining and enjoining the parties
hereto from instituting and/or prosecuting any other suit
or elsewhere; and (4) awarding NY Life attorneys'
fees, costs of
suit and such other and further relief as the Court deems
In turn, on November 26, 2013, Defendant Aleandre
1 As a result of Kimberly's appearance,
Defendant Aleandre's request for
t Kimberly is no longer
a default judgment
Kimberly and for the
r NY Life to directly pay
1. Rule 22
22, interpleader is
requesting it "is or may be exposed to double or mult
. R. Civ. P. 22(1). Rooted in equity,
interpleader is a
tool to protect a stakehol
to the same fund.
the vexation of defending mult
erally Texas v. Florida, 306 U.S. 398,
(1939); 7 Charles A. Wright, Arthur R. Miller & Ma
1702, 1704, at 493 97,
r Wright & Miller].
(2d ed. 1986)
what triggers inte
r is "a real and reasonable
double liability or vexatious, conflicting claims . .
Indianapolis Colts v. Mayor
Baltimore, 741 F.2d 954,
105 S.Ct. 1753, 84 L.Ed.2d 817
cert. denied, 470 U.S. 1052,
2. Rule 67
"If any part of the relief sought is a money judgment
or the dispos
ion of a sum of money or some other delive
rty-on notice to every other party and by leave of
court-may deposit with the court all or
or not that party cIa
rt of the money or
any of it.
depositing party must deliver to the clerk a copy of the order
permitting a deposit." Fed. R. Civ.
Onder this rule, payments into the court are
fact that there are adverse
proceeds of the judgment.
See U.S. Overseas
Airlines, Inc. v. Compania Aerea Viajes Expresos De Venezuela,
S.A., 161 F. Supp. 513 (S.D.N.Y. 1958).
action, payment of insurance poli
ect a sta
In an interpleader
funds to t
Court may be
lder from multiple liability and
the vexation of defending multiple claims to the same fund .
. , Inc. v. Paterson, Walke & Pratt,
986 F.2d 677, 679 (2d Cir. 1993).
the merits of competing claims.
This is true
John v. 50th
F.R.D. 29 (S.D.N.Y. 1992).
Interpleader is Appropriate and Plaintiff's Motion to
Deposit The Death Benefits is Granted
leader and to depos
benefits of the Insured's poli
action is appropriate when a
stakeholder "'legitimately fears mult
a single fund,'" rega
Ie [liability] direct
ess of the merits of
shna v. Col
te Palmolive Co., No. 90 Civ.
4116, 1991 WL 125186 (S.D.N.Y. June 27, 1991)
1 Practice & Procedure
Wright, et al.,
timately fears, doub
the Insured's homic
(quoting 7 Charles
1704, at 501 (2d
prospect of, and
liability if the investigation into
eandre as the
Under New York's "Slayer Statute," the rule is that
"one cannot take property by inheritance or will from an
ancestor or benefactor whom he
115 N.Y. 506 (1889).
Riggs v. Palmer,
According to the Orange County She
Department, Defendant Aleandre is still being investigated in
the murder of the Insured.
Pursuant to New York's Sla
would not be legally entitled to the proceeds
life insurance policies if she were convicted of the
murder of t
See In re Gleason, 36 Misc.3d 486, 491
(Sup. Ct. Su
lk Cty. 2012).
Even in cases where the poli
beneficiary is merely a su
r, courts have
or person of interest in the
rmined that interpleader was
beneficiary is later found
, 2013 WL 3992754
and Assur. Co., Inc. v.
Co. v. Marini, 1998 WL 704267
Metropolitan Life Ins.
nd upon criminal conviction.
disqualification thus does not
See Doe v. American General li
Ins. Co. of New York,
Misc.2d 80 (Sup. Ct. Bronx Cty. 1998).
The same holds true where, as here, NY Li
subject to multiple
if it gives t
and she is later convict
since the homicide
s not entitle Defendant to t
has not been ruled out
investigation is ongoing.
1998 WL 704267, at *1 (no bad
company since "only two
Further, a two year delay
where NY Life has been told that
ith or undue
ars" had passed since the
Plaintiff also seeks permission to deposit t
with the Court's Regist
under Rule 67.
Unlike statutory interpleader, 28 U.S.C. § 1335, which
requires a stakeholder to deposit the asset with the court,
deposit of the asset is not a jurisdictional prerequisite for
rule interpleader. See National Union Fire Ins. Co. v.
Ambassador Group, Inc., 691 F.Supp. 618,
Nationwide Mutual Ins. Co. v. Eckman, 555 F.Supp. 775, 778
Del. 1983); 3A James W. Moore, et al., Moore's Federal Practice
22.10 (2d ed. 1989).
The Court, though, has discretion to
permit such a deposit under Rule 67. See Gulf States Util. Co.
v. Alabama Power Co., 824 F.2d 1465, 1475 (5th Cir.), modi
on other grounds, 831 F.2d 557
(5th Cir. 1987); Bauer v.
Uniroyal Tire Co., 630 F.2d 1287, 1290 n.
4 (8th Cir. 1980).
"The purpose of Rule 67 is 'to relieve the depositor of
responsibility for a fund in dispute,' such as in an
interpleader action." Gulf States, 824 F.2d at 1474
12 Charles Wright & Arthur Miller, Federal Practice & Procedure
(1973)); see Prudential Ins. Co.
Am. v. BMC Indus.,
630 F. Supp. 1298, 1300 (S.D.N.Y. 1986). The rule appl
where a dispute exists concerning the funds or object. See
Baxter v. United Forest
Co., 406 F.2d 1120, 1126 (8th Cir.
cert. denied, 394 U.S. 1018
(1969); Manufacturers Hanover
Overseas Capital Corp. v. Southwire Co., 589 F.Supp. 214, 221
Because there are potential competing claims to the
funds at issue, exposing Plaintiff to liabil
Plaintiff, as an innocent s
keholder, pay the claim of
Defendant Aleandre and then later find out she is not ent
to such payment, depos
With respect to fees, a federal district court
scretion to awa
fees and costs to a
an action brought under
interpleader statute." Guardian Life Ins. Co.
Ange, 2012 WL 463894, at * 2 (S.D.N.Y.
nature of the 1
Co. v. Isra
ng, B.V. v. St
675, 683 (2d
America v. St.
n and Day, Inc., 884 F.2d
instant case, given the limited
igation and the circumstances of all parties,
fees are not awarded. See, e.g., Tra
,354 F.2d 488, 490
(2d eir. 1965)
ers Indemni ty
("We are not
notion that whenever a minor problem arises
in the payment of insurance policies, insurers may, as a matter
of course, transfer a part of their ordinary costs of doing
ss of their insured by bringing an action for
r.") i Feehan v. Feehan, 2011 WL 497852, at *7-8
(S.D.N.Y. Jan. 10, 2011)
costs where interple
(declining to award attorneys'
r action was not complex, involved no
unique problems, and insurer seeking interpleader provided no
iled to explain how any court submissions
exceeded the ordinary cost of doing business), adopted by 2011
WL 497776 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 10, 2011).
II. Defendant Aleandre's Motion for Summary Judgment is
Denied and Defendant Aleandre is Compelled to Submit
Further Information as to her Right to the Policy to this
Defendant bases her motion for summary judgment on t
re are no adverse
r death benefits as
Kimberly has failed to respond or appear, and
evidence supporting that Aleandre is a suspect in the Insured's
murder contains inadmissible
say and is inaccurate.
Kimberly has since appeared, Defendant's first argument is moot.
ct to Defendant's second assertion, Aleandre
cites a letter from the S
fice sent on November 1,
2013 to her attorney stating: "[W]e have not indicated that your
client is a suspect or person of interest in this ongoing
Our practice is to neither confirm, nor deny,
whether a person is a suspect in an open homicide
Defendant acknowledges that the Sheriff's
its office is
Office released an October 10, 2013 letter
"engaged in an ongoing invest
Suspects are currently being developed."
, Ex. 2.)
While these two letters alone do not, as Aleandre
affidavits that t
Plaintiff has presented sworn
Orange County Sheriff's Office confirmed
that Aleandre had not
n ruled out as a suspect, but that
This warrants interpleader action, as it exposes
to potential multiple competing claims, and Aleandre's
for summary judgment is therefore denied.
rties seem to disagree as to the
current status of the investigation into the Insured's Mu
and the stance of
fice as to Aleandre.
eandre still wish to retain
the Insured's policy, she is compelled to submit further
briefing and support for
r claim to this Court.
fe and Assur. Co., Inc. v. Epps, 2013 WL 3992754
(defendant compelled to liti
proceeds in the court following deposit of
insurance company subject to Rules 22 and 67).
e her right to
funds by the
For the reasons set forth above,
Plaintiff's motion is
granted in part and denied in part: Plaintiff is
commence an interpleader action;
(2) permitted to deposit the
$50,000 death benefit proceeds with the
court as relating to Aleandre;
discharged from any further
liability under the policies to Defendants; and
are enjoined from commencing any further litigation against NY
Life relating to the policies in this court or elsewhere.
Plaintiff's motion for an award of attorneys'
fees and costs is
Defendant Aleandre's motion for default and summary
judgment is denied,
and Aleandre is compelled to submit further
support for her right to the death benefits to this Court.
It is so ordered.
New York, NY
December /6, 2013
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